Asking some Loaded questions

Following the success of Loaded, IPC plans a new glossy football title. Will it succeed?

SBHD: Following the success of Loaded, IPC plans a new glossy football title. Will it succeed?

The men’s magazine market is experiencing considerable growth. Last week, when yet another general lifestyle title, Maxim from Dennis Publishing, was launched, came news that IPC is to put out a glossy, adult football magazine.

The football title will come from the same division that last launched Loaded and so must have been difficult for IPC’s board to turn down.

Soccer and music division publishing director Andy McDuff’s Loaded sold double what it was expected to in its first six months – 95,000. It is now selling more than 110,000 copies and gaining ground on longer-established competitors.

McDuff says football magazines have to compete with some of the best soccer coverage in the world: “There are probably 20 football titles in the market at the moment, but few of them will last. They think it must be easy to sell a magazine about the national game. But in reality you’ve got the national press and TV to compete with. So you’ve actually got to do it very, very well and in a highly-targeted manner.”

McDuff believes publishers have stuck to the teenage market with football magazines because they read fewer newspapers and the “big pictures of stars” formula can work where it won’t with adults.

There is another consideration: “You also need to have the financial reserves to stick out some lean times while you persuade advertisers to take you seriously,” says McDuff.

McDuff is no stranger to persuading people to take him seriously. IPC chief executive Mike Matthew admits he didn’t wholly understand the Loaded concept at first: “When I saw the proposal, what came through was a sense of conviction about a different type of magazine. I didn’t really understand it, but I knew McDuff and Loaded editor James Brown did.”

While Loaded was an immediate success with agency press buyers – many of them are part of the magazine’s core demographic – early advertisers were worried about marketing their brands in the magazine’s risquéeditorial environment.

“Advertisers were comfortable with GQ and Esquire, which never rattled any cages. They were worried about Loaded at first. So we went out to see them to impress on them the quality of the readership. These guys are, on average, 25-years-old, predominantly ABC1, label-conscious and single, with money to spend,” says McDuff.

Loaded has helped IPC to look innovative and put paid to its staid “Ministry of magazines” image. Advertising agencies are talking about “Loaded men” as a generic marketing group and other titles in the men’s market have increased their raunchy editorial to respond to the title’s success.

However, Haymarket’s Four Four Two is selling over 65,000 six months after its launch and there must be a question as to whether there is room for another football title.

Peter Aldridge, Zenith press manager on the Puma account, would not be surprised to see another football magazine succeed.

“People used to believe that men don’t buy magazines, but there has been such a wealth of titles launched in the past three years and each one has succeeded in developing the market. If they can produce a quality product which is editorially different they should succeed,” says Aldridge.

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